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New Theater Production Asks Hard Questions About Native American Cultural Preservation

Relative Theatrics

A Laramie theater troupe will offer the first ever performance of the play, “What Would Crazyhorse Do?” by Lakota playwright Larissa Fasthorse on March 30, 31, April 1 and April 6, 7 and 8.

It’s the story of a set of twins, the last two remaining members of a fictitious tribe, who are approached by the Ku Klux Klan to collaborate on preserving racial identity. Fasthorse said she was impressed that Laramie’s Relative Theatrics was brave enough to tackle such a controversial topic when, for five years, no other troupe would.

“It’s just a hugely popular play and yet so many theater companies have been afraid of doing it. And for this company, when they contacted me, I was like, you mean Laramie, right? I’ve been to Laramie,” she said with a laugh. “You want to produce this? And they’re doing such a brave, crazy season of work.”

Fasthorse said, the play has been read over ten times nationally but still hasn't been performed on stage. One reason, she said, is because she requests that Native Americans play Native American parts. She said while many theaters resist that, Relative Theatrics Director Anne Mason of Laramie embraced it.

“We love it but we can’t cast Native people,” Fasthorse said. “And so I always say, then we will talk again. And that doesn’t mean you can’t produce the play. But what I’m going to say is first you have to try. You have to really try. Anne, however, was 100 percent on board with that. Unfortunately, a lot of theaters I have to really push them to try.”

Mason spent six months casting the play. It opens Thursday at the Gryphon Theater in Laramie.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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